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Deciphering Listener Impressions


wanta911
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I recently tried out an additional component in my digital chain, just before the DAC. It is irrelevant what it was, all I will say is that there was an audible difference between having it in and not. I was able to set up an instant A/B comparison using different inputs on my DAC, which were both SPDIF and using the same brand & model of cables. This is about how the change was perceived by 2 different people (other than myself) on different days:

 

Person 1: I thought it sounded pretty good before but there is much better definition with the change which benefits the bass, the centre image is much more focussed. Without it the centre image is smeared in comparison.

 

Person 2: The soundstage has somewhat collapsed with the change. Listening without it gives a much better sense of spacing between instruments.

 

So there you have it, two very different perspectives on an audible change. Try making a purchasing decision based on this ;)

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Nice post. Articulating perceived differences is terribly fraught.

 

Quick A/B comparisons can be challenge. I often set much more modest goals - like, which one am I enjoying more? It often takes me some time before I can get a better handle on why I like it better.

 

But as I read on this forum of late - expectation bias is a killer. Someone mentioned that in regards to DAC chip reputations (expecting a Sabre DAC to be 'analytical' verses a ladder being more 'musical'). Once we have a story about a piece of kit, it's not hard to find evidence to support that story.

 

Pretty darn impossible to be above expectation biases... But always good to be aware of them, me thinks.

Synology NAS DS216SE + TF cards -> GentooPlayer in RAM on mini fanless/supercap NUC -> Audio GD R-27 -> S.A.T. Infinity monoblocks -> Gallo Stradas + TR-3 sub Hifiman HE560

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Nice post. Articulating perceived differences is terribly fraught.

 

Quick A/B comparisons can be challenge. I often set much more modest goals - like, which one am I enjoying more? It often takes me some time before I can get a better handle on why I like it better.

 

But as I read on this forum of late - expectation bias is a killer. Someone mentioned that in regards to DAC chip reputations (expecting a Sabre DAC to be 'analytical' verses a ladder being more 'musical'). Once we have a story about a piece of kit, it's not hard to find evidence to support that story.

 

Pretty darn impossible to be above expectation biases... But always good to be aware of them, me thinks.

 

Hey I still remember when ladder DACs were known to be unmusical and SDM of one sort or another was the solution to smoother more musical DACs.

 

Also now the solution for musicality is either old timey NOS ladder DAC or an extreme version of SDM in the form of DSD. Enough to make one smile (or smirk) I think.

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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I've been on multiple auditioning sessions as a group (all members of an audiophile forum), gatherings at homes with multiple pieces of equipment, etc. and never did we reach a group consensus where everyone agreed on everything.

 

On a few instances though we did all agree on a couple of things... like the Zu Essence was muddy and not worth its price, the Harbeth Super HL5 plus was unbeatable at its price, and the Chord 2Qute was the best DAC everyone had heard at its budget.

 

So there are instances where folks can agree... but very rarely. Also, I'm sure if asked to put into words, each of us would describe it differently too.

 

End of the day (for most of us), its the budget that gets to decide, and not always what we heard.

Next to the Word of God, the noble art of music is the greatest treasure in the world - Martin Luther

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